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Ruins of ancient cities : with general and particular accounts of their rise, fall, and present condition (Volume 1) online

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and of the civilised world. The decay of the Athe-
nian monuments may be attributed to various causes.
' Fire and the barbarian' have both done their work.
Athens has seen many masters. The Romans were
too refined to destroy the monuments of art : but the
Goths had a long period of spoliation ; and then came
the Turks, at once proud and ignorant, despising
what they could not understand. The Acropolis
became a garrison in their hands, and thus, in 1687, it
was bombarded by the Venetians, whose heavy guns
were directed against the porticoes and colonnades of
the ancient temples. But the Turks still continued to
hold their conquests ; and the business of demolition
went steadily on for another century and a half.
Many travellers who visited Athens about a hundred
years ago, and even much later, describe monuments
of sculpture which now have no existence. The
Turks pounded the marble into dust to make lime ;
one traveller after another continued to remove a frag-
ment. The museums of Egypt were successively
adorned with these relics ; at last, when, as column
after column fell, the remains of Athens were be-

1 IB nriv* <-i r CITIES.

coming less and less worthy of notice, covered in tho
ilu^t, or carted away to be broken up for lmil<lin-.
Lord Elgin, who had been ambassador at Constan-
tinople in 1799, obtained, in 1801, an authority from
the Turkish go vernment, called a firmaun, which \ , n-
tually enabled the British nation to possess the most
valuable of the sculptures of which any portion was
left. The authority thus granted empowered Lord
K|'_MII to fix scaffolding around the ancient temple of
the Idols * to mould the ornamental and visible figures
thereon in plaster and gypsum ;' and, subsequently,
* to take away any pieces of stone with old inscrip-
tions or figures thereon.' For several years the
intentions of Lord Elgin were carried into effect at
his private risk, and at a cost which is stated to have
amounted to 74,000/, including the interest of
money. In 18 10, the entire collection was purchased
of Lord Elgin by act of parliament for 35,000/. It
is unnecessary for us to go into tho controversy,
whether it was just to remove these relics from their
original scats. Had the Greeks been able to preserve
them, there can be no doubt of the injustice of such
an act. The probability is, that if foreign govern-
ments had not done what Lord Elgin did as an indi-
vidual, there would not have been a fragment left at
this day to exhibit the grandeur of the Grecian art
as practised by Phidias. The British nation, by the
purchase of these monuments, has secured a pos-
session of inestimable value*."

* " The two principal statues among the Elgin marbles are those
of Theseus the Athenian hero, and a recumbent figure, supposed
to be the river-god Ilistus (numbered in the Synopsis 93 and 99).
They arc executed in a stylo of extraordinary breadth and grandeur.
Thorns is represented half reclined on a rork, covered with the
skin of a lion, and appears to be resting after some mighty labour.
The figure of the IIUsus is less robust: all his contours flow in
lines of undulating elegance. But in both these statues, that
which chiefly strikes us, in spite of the dilapidations which they


From these observations, it would appear that the
spoliation of the Parthenon may be vindicated on the
ground, that neither the Turks nor the citizens cared
any thing about them, and that if they had not been
taken away, they would, in a short time, have been
destroyed. Respectable testimony, however, is op-
posed to this : most travellers have inveighed against
the spoliation ; and two, highly qualified, have given
a very different account from what the above state-
ment implies. These are Dr. Clarke and Mr. Dodwell.
We shall select the testimony of the latter in pre-
ference to that of Dr. Clarke, only because he was
at Athens at the very time in which the spoliation
was going on. " During my first tour to Greece,"
says he, " I had the inexpressible mortification of
being present when the Parthenon was despoiled of

have suffered, is the vitality which seems to pervade them. In
these, not only the office and appearance of the muscles, whether
in action or at rest, but the bearings of the skeleton, are expressed
with an accuracy which could only have resulted from the most
profound science, added to an acute and perpetual observation of
nature. The statue of the Ilissus is especially remarkable for its
graceful flexibility; and vc would observe, without going too tech-
nically into the subject, how different is the indentation, formed by
the lower line of the ribs in this figure, so admirably expressing its
position, from that geometrical arch by which this part of the body
is designated in the ordinary antique statues, and which is so rarely
accommodated to the action represented. The principle, pointed
out in this instance, "may be traced throughout the Elgin marbles, in
which true art is never superseded by conventional style. We
believe that in the opinion of the majority of connoisseurs, the
etatue of Theseus is considered superior to that of the Ilissus.
Canova, however, preferred the latter ; and Raflfaelle, who imported
designs from Greece, has adapted this figure to that of the fallen
Commander, in his picture of Heliodorus. It is well known that
the Ilissus was a small stream which ran along the south side of
the plain of Athens. The statue in which it is here personified
occupied the left angle of the west pediment of the Parthenon, and
that of Theseus was placed opposite to it on the east pediment next
to the horses of Hyperion."

120 IIIMNS OF ANC DMT < 1 1 ir*.

its finest sculpture, and when some of its arehitee-
tunil members were thrown to the ground." * * *
" It is, indeed, impossible to suppress the feelings
of regret which must arise in the breast of e\n v
traveller, who lias seen these temples het'nre and since
their late dilapidation ! Nor have I any hesitation
in declaring, that the Athenians in general, nay,
even the Turks themselves, did lament the ruin that
was committed ; and loudly and openly blnincil their
sovereign for the permission he had granted ! I
was on the spot at the time, and had an opportunity
of observing, and, indeed, of participating, in the
sentiment of indignation, which such conduct uni-
versally inspired. The whole proceeding was so
unpopular in Athens, that it was necessary to pay
the labourers more than their usual profits, before
any one could be prevailed upon to assist in this
work of profanatiou."

" Such rapacity is a crime against all ages and all
generations," says Mr. Eustace; " it deprives the past
of the trophies of their genius and the title-deeds of
their fame ; the present of the strongest inducements
to exertion, the noblest exhibitions that curiosity can
contemplate ; and the future of the master-pieces of
art, the models of imitation. To guard against the
repetition of such depredations is the wish of every
man of genius, the duty of every man in power, and
the common interest of every civilised nation."

" That the Elgin marbles will contribute to the
improvement of art in England," says Mr. Williams,
" cannot bo doubted. They must, certainly, open
the eyes of the British artists, and prove that the
true and only road to simplicity and beauty is the
study of nature. But had we a right to diminish
the interest of Athens for selfish motives, and prevent
successive generations of other nations from seeing


those admirable structures ? The temple of Minerva
was spared as a beacon to the world, to direct it to
the knowledge of purity and of taste. What can we
say to the disappointed traveller, who is now de-
prived of the rich satisfaction that would have com-
pensated his travel and his toil ? It will be little
consolation to him to say, he may find the sculpture
of the Parthenon in England*."


Babylon and Nineveh appear to have resembled
each other, not only in form but in extent and popu-
lation. Quintus Curtius asserts, that Babylon owed
its origin to Semiramis. In the Bible, however, it
having been stated, that one of the chief cities of
Nimrod was Babel ; many authors have given into
the idea, that Babylon was built by Nimrod. If
we attend strictly to the words of Moses, however, we
shall find that to have been an impossible circum-

Moses states, that Nimrod had four large cities t.
Those were Babel, Erech, Accad, and Calneth.
Nimrod was a descendant of Ham ; but the temple of
Babel, on the establishment of which depends the
origin of Babylon, was built by the descendants of
Shem : at least, we have the right to believe so ; for
Moses mentions the descendants of Shem last, and
then goes on to say : " The whole earth was of one
language and of one speech : and it came to pass, as
they journeyed from the East, that they found a plain
in the land of Shinar, and they dwelt there."

* Herodotus ; Thucydides ; Pliny, the younger ; Plutarch ;
Pausanias ; Wlieler ; Rollin ; Chandler ; Stuart ; Barllielcmy ;
Sandwich; Montague; 13re\vster; Rees; Byron; Dodwell; Clarke;
llobhouse ; Eustace ; Quin ; Williams ; De la Marline.
) Gen. c. x. v. 10.

\'2'2 KI INS I,!' \\, II NT CITIES.

When they had dwelt there some time, tin
to one another, " Go to, let us make brick, ami burn
them thoroughly. And they had brick for stone,
and slime had they for mortar." This was the first
of the subsequent town. They had not yet aspired
to any particular distinction. At length they said
to themselves, " Let us build a city and a town- ;
and let us make us a name, lest we bo scattered
abroad upon the face of the whole earth." They were
interrupted in their design, and " they left off buihl-
ing the city." There is, however, no account of its
having been destroyed ; nor any in regard to the
destruction of the temple. The people, however,
were scattered*.

This city was, subsequently, called Babel ; and
the temple of Bolus being the oldest temple re-
corded in history, it has been generally supposed,
that it was no other than the tower, the family of
Shem had endeavoured to build. This, however, is
far from being certain ; for Josephus, who, in this
case is not without his weight, relates that the tower
was thrown down by an impetuous wind or violent
hurricane ; and that it never was rebuilt.

The fact is, that the real origin of Babylon
is lost in the depth of history; and all that can
be stated, with any degree of certainty, is, that Ni-
neveh and Babylon were founded much about the
same time, and that Ninus, Semiramis, Ninyas, and
Sardanapalus were sovereigns, though not during
their whole lives, of both cities. This appears to us

* Gen. xi. v. 4 " The scheme* that men of roane imagination!
have raited from a (ingle expression in the Bible, and sometimes
from a supposition of a fact no where to be foiiml, arc astonishing.
If you believe the Hebrew doctors, the language of iwn, which,
till the building of Babel, had been one, was divided into seventy
languages. But of the miraculous division of the languages there
is not one word in the Bible." " Dissertation on the Origin of
languages," by DR. GRKGOKY SHARP*, 2nd Ed. p. 24.


to be the only way in which we can understand the
history of the first Assyrian empire.

A\ r e have no space to enter into the particular
history of this most celebrated of all cities; neither
does the plan of our work admit of it : our province
only being to record its origin, to describe its ancient
state, to give an account of its destruction, and then
describe, from the pages of authentic travellers, the
ruins which still remain.

Having given some account of its origin, we pro-
ceed to describe the height to which it was exalted.
" The Assyrians," says Herodotus, " are masters of
many capital towns ; but their place of greatest
strength and fame is Babylon * ; where, after the
destruction of Nineveh, was the royal residence. It
is situated on a large plain, and is a perfect square ;
each side, by every approach is, in length, one hun-
dred and twenty furlongs ; the space, therefore,
occupied by the whole, is four hundred and eighty
furlongs : so extensive is the ground which Babylon
occupies. Its internal beauty and magnificence
exceeds whatever has come within my knowledge.
It is surrounded by a trench, very wide, deep, and
full of water ; the wall beyond this is two hundred
royal cubits high t, and fifty wide ; the royal exceeds

* The greatest cities of Europe give but a faint idea of the gran-
deur which all historians unanimously ascribe to the famous city
of Babylon. DUTF.NS.

f " It is conceivable," says an elegant writer on civil archi-
tecture, " that walls of the height of the London monument
might have, during the long existence of a great empire, been raised
to protect so great a city as Nineveh ; but it requires a much greater
stretch of thought to conceive them, as in the case of Babylon, to
be raised to a height equal to that of the cross which terminates the
dome or cupola of St. Paul's cathedral in London. Yet, whea
we recollect that Nebifchadnezzar was intoxicated with conquest, in
possession of unbounded power and riches, and ambitious of erecting
a metropolis for all Asia, upon a scale which should surpass every
city the world had seen, we shall hesitate in condemning as impro-
bable even the descriptions of Herodotus."


the common cubit by time dibits*." " It will not bo
foreign to my purpose," continues the hi>torian, " to
describe the use to which the earth dug out of the
trrnch was converted, as well as the particular
manner in which they constructed the wall. The
earth of the trench was first of all laid in heaps, and
when a sufficient quantity was obtained, made into
square bricks, and baked in a furnace. They used,
as' cement, a composition of heated bitumen, which,
mixed with the tops of reeds, was placed between
every thirtieth course of bricks. Having thus lined
the sides of the trench, they proceeded to build the
wall in a similar manner ; on the summit of which,
and fronting each other, they erected small watch-
towers of one story, leaving a space betwixt them,
through which a chariot and four horses might pass
and turn. In the circumference of the wall, at dif-
ferent distances, were a hundred massy gates of
brass t, whose hinges and frames were of the same
metal. Within eight days' journey from Babylon is
a city called Is, near which flows a river of the same
name, which empties itself into the Euphrates.
With the current of this river, particles of bitumen
descend towards Babylon, by means of which its
walls are constructed. The great river Euphrates,
which, with its deep and rapid streams, rises in

It must be confessed, indeed, that in the comparison of ancient
and modern measures, nothing certain has been concluded. Ac-
cording to vulgar computation, a cubit is a foot and a half; and
thus the ancients also reckoned it ; but then we are not ccrtaJuly
agreed about the length of their foot. MONTFALXON.

The doubt expressed by Montfaucon appears unnecessary ; these
measures being taken from the proportions of the human body, aro
more permanent than any other. Tim foot of a moderately-sized
man, and the cubit (that is, the space from the end of the fingers
to the elbow), have always Wen twelve and eighteen inches
respectively. DELOK.

t Thus, suith the Lord, to his anointed, to Cyrus, I will go
before thcc , I will break in pieces the gates of brass. ISAIAH.


the Armenian mountains, and pours itself into tli9
Red Sea*, divides Babylon into two parts. The
walls meet and form an angle at the river at each
extremity of the town, where a breast- work of burnt
bricks begins, and is continued along each bank. The
city, which abounds in houses from three to four
stories in height, is regularly divided into streets.
Through these, which are parallel, there are transverse
avenues to the river opened through the wall and
breast- work, and secured by an equal number of
little gates of brass."

The historian then proceeds to describe the forti-
fications and the temple of Belus. " The first wall
is regularly fortified ; the interior one, though less in
substance, is of about equal strength. Besides these,
in the centre of each division of the city, there is a
circular space surrounded by a wall. In one of these
stands the royal palace, which fills a large and
strongly-defended place. The temple of Jupiter
Belus t occupies the other, whose huge gates of brass
may still be seen. It is a square building, each side
of which is of the length of two furlongs. In the
midst, a tower rises of the solid depth and height of
one furlong, upon which, resting as a base, seven
other turrets are built in regular succession. The
ascent is on the outside ; which, winding from the
ground, is continued to the highest tower; and in
the middle of the whole structure there is a conve-

* The original Erythraean, or Red Sea, was that part of the Indian
ocean, which forms the peninsula of Arabia ; the Persian and
Arabian gulfs being branches of it. BELOE.

f It is necessary to bear in mind, that the temples of the
ancients were altogether different from our churches. A large
space was inclosed by walls, in which were courts, a grove, pieces
of water, apartments sometimes for the priests ; and, lastly, the
temple, properly so called, and where, most frequently, it was per-
mitted the priests alone to enter. The whole inclcsure was named
rb ifpAv : the temple, properly so called, or the residence of the
deity, wa called va6s (naos) or the cell. HARYBY.

126 uriN-i or AM IKM en

nient resting-place. In the last tower is n i
chapel, in which is placed a couch magnificently
adorned, and near it a table of solid gold ; but there-
is no statue in the place." Herodotus, how
states, that in another part of the temple there was a
-tatue of Jupiter, in a sitting posture, with a large
table before him ; and that these, with the base of
the table and the seat of the throne, we re all of the
purest gold, and were estimated in his time, by the
Chaldeans, at not less than eight hundred talent-.

We may here give place to a passage in a modern
poem, highly descriptive of its ancient state.

Those walls, within

Whose large inclosure the rude hind, or guides
His plough, or binds his sheaves, while shepherds guard
Their flocks, scare of ill : on the broad top
Six chariots rattled in extended front.
For there, since Cyrus on the neighbouring plain,
Has marked his camp, th' enclosed Assyrian drives
His foaming steeds, and from the giddy height
Ix>oks down with scorn on all the tents below.
Each side in length, in height, in solid bulk,
Reflects its opposite; a perfect square ;
Scarce sixty thousand paces can mete out
The vast circumference. An hundred gate*
Of polished brass Icsd to that central point,
Where through the midst, bridged o'er with wondrous art,
Euphrates leads a navigable stream,
Branch'd from the current of his roaring flood.

DH. ROBERTS, Judah Restored,

Thus we find the walls to have extended to a vast
circumference from forty-eight to sixty miles ; but
we are not to suppose them to have been entirely
filled up with houses;* but, as in tho old city of
Moscow, to have been in no small part taken up with
gardens and other cultivated lands.

In regard to the size of some ancient Eastern cities,

* The streets crossed each other, and the city was cut into six
hundred and seventy -six squares, each of which was four furlongs
and a half on every side; viz., two miles and a quarter in circuiu-


Mr. Franklin baa made some very pertinent remarks, in
his inquiry concerning the site of the ancient Pali-
bothra : " For the extent of the city and suburbs
of Palibothra, from seventy-five to eighty miles have
been assigned by the Puranas ; a distance, said to be
impossible for the space occupied by a single city.
So, indeed, it might, were we to compare the cities of
Asia with those of Europe. The idea of lofty houses
of brick and stone, consisting of many stories, with a
number of inhabitants, like those of London, Paris,
Vienna, and many others, must not be compared
with the nature of the Asiatic cities. To look in
them for regularly-built squares, and spacious and
paved streets, would be absurd."

Herodotus gives the extent of the walls of Babylon
at one hundred and twenty stades on each side, or four
hundred and eighty stades in circumference. Diodorus
three hundred and sixty stades in circumference. Cli-
tarchus, who accompanied Alexander, three hundred
and'sixty-five. Curtius states it at three hundred and
sixty -eight; and Straboat three hundred and eighty-
five stades. The general approximation of these
measurements would lead us to suppose that the
same stade was used by the different reporters ; and
if this was the Greek itinerary stade, we may esti-
mate the circumference of the great city at twenty-
five British miles*. " The lines, drawn on maps, are
often only used to divide distant mounds of ruin.
Accumulations of pottery and brickwork are met
with occasionally over a great tract ; but the con-
nection, supposed between these and the corn-fields
and gardens, within the common precincts of a wall,
is gratuitous in the extreme. Imagine London and
Paris to be levelled, and the inhabitant of some
future city to visit their ruins, as those of then re-
mote antiquity ; if, in the one instance, Sevres, Mont
" Porter.


_t% and Vincennes, or, in th< % other, (invnwich,
Stratford-le-Bow, Tottenham, I lichgate, Hammer-
smith, Richmond, and Clapham, be taken in as
Ixmndaries, or identified respectively as the rnins of
Paris and London, what a prodigious extent would
those cities gain in the eyes of futurity* ! "

Babylon, as we have already stated, stood upon
the Euphrates, as Nineveh did upon the Tigris. A
branch of it ran entirely through the city from north
to south ; and on each side was a quay, wallrd
towards the river, of the same thickness as the city
walls. In these, also, were gates of brass, from
which persons descended to the water by steps ;
whence, for a long time, they crossed to the other
side in boats ; that is, until the building of a bridge.
These gates were open always in the day, but shut
at night. A bridge was at length erected ; and this
bridge was equally celebrated with tho other great
buildings; for it was of vast size; but Diodorus
would seem to make it to have been much la'rger
than it really was. He says it was five furlongs in
length. Now as the Euphrates, at the spot, was
only one furlong wide, this would be impossible ; so
we suppose that there must have been a causeway
on each side of the bridge ; and that Diodorus in-
cluded the two causeways, which were, probably,
merely dry arches, as we find in a multitude of mo-
dern bridges. It was, nevertheless, thirty feet in
breadth, and built with great skill. The arches
were of hewn stone, fastened together with chains of
iron and melted lead. To effect the building with
the greater care and safety, they turned the course of
tho rivert, and laid the channel dry. While one
part of the workmen were doing this, others were


f This U Mid to have been done at the building of old London


shaping the materials for the quays, so that all were
finished at the same time.

During a certain portion of the year (viz., June,
July, and August) the Euphrates overflows its banks,
as the Nile does in Egypt, the Ganges in India, and
the Amazon in South America. To remedy the
manifold inconveniences arising from this, two large
canals were cut to divert the superabundant waters
into the Tigris, before they could reach Babylon* ;
and to secure the neighbouring country still the
better, they raised artificial banks, as the Dutch
have done in Holland, of a vast size, on both sides
the river ; not built, however, of earth, as in Hol-
land, but of brick cemented with bitumen, which
began at the head of the canals, and extended for
some distance below the city. To effect all this, the
Euphrates, which had been turned one way, in order
to build the bridge, was turned another to build the
banks. To this end they dug a vast lake, forty
miles square, and one hundred and sixty in com-
pass, and thirty-five feet deep. Into this lake
the river was diverted, till the banks were finished ;

Online LibraryCharles BuckeRuins of ancient cities : with general and particular accounts of their rise, fall, and present condition (Volume 1) → online text (page 10 of 36)